The Reliant Regal Supervan III was a three-wheeled car manufactured by the Reliant Motor Company between 1953 and 1973. Its successor, the Reliant Robin, is a three-wheeled car that went on to become the second most popular fiberglass car in history until its production ceased in 2002.
In 2003, the billionaire Elon Musk co-founded the electric car company Tesla Motors. The company began production on an all-electric car that, unlike its counterparts, could successfully travel long distances. The Roadster was released in 2008 and can travel more than 320 kilometres on one charge.
The three-wheeled car haunts the title character. Run-ins usually end with the Reliant Regal being toppled over or crashing.
My fifth car was another Hyundai Excel, 1999 model. I maxed out a credit card to buy it from a poet friend. The car’s lock pins came emblazoned with cyborg skulls with red diamante eyes. I drove it for about two years until I had a mental breakdown in it while driving myself to the hospital. When I traded it in I managed to offset the price of an unregistered used Kia Rio by $400. The Kia goes like a dream in which you pay your rent on time.
On 24 July 2018 Twitter announces that if you change your display name to Elon Musk they will lock you out of your account until you supply them with a valid phone number. The Twitter account ‘Italian Elon Musk’ is shut down as the algorithm slithers across the social media platform.
As of July 2018, the Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group has 1948 members.
At 1851 hours on 20 May 2018, Elon Musk tweeted about allegedly firing workers because they were union members. ‘They can form a union whenever they want & there’s nothing I can do to stop them. California is a very pro-union state. They just don’t want to.’
In episode twelve, Tee Off, Mr Bean, the protagonist is seen hitchhiking. As the three-wheeled car with a faceless driver pulls over to offer him a lift, the protagonist expresses disdain before pretending to not see the car. Episode 12 also contains the only incidence in which the protagonist successfully boards a bus.
On 20 December 2017, Australian Social Services Minister Christian Porter relinquished his portfolio and became the Attorney-General of Australia in the Turnbull government.
A light blue Reliant Regal Supervan III is a recurring albeit enigmatic character.
I can finally report that on this day at 0800 hours I was cut off on the M4 toll road by a L-plater driving a Tesla (the same one I always see) while on my way to work in Parramatta.
At 0854 hours on 18 June 2018 Elon Musk tweeted, ‘Marx was a capitalist. He even wrote a book about it.’
My fourth car was a Hyundai Excel, 1997 model. I borrowed money from my mum’s best friend to buy it. It was the first time I experienced debt. The Excel was immortal. My mate Jimmy and I drove it from San Remo to Perth, across the Nullarbor and back. The only issues we had were when an industrial bag of oats exploded in the boot and when, at times, thick grey smoke would stream from the exhaust. We named this occurrence ‘The Billow’. The Billow pissed off a lot of other drivers, especially when we were driving in tunnels. One day after its registration expired I sold the car for $250 at the auction house my housemate worked in.
At 2045 hours on Tuesday 6 February 2018 it took two-and-half hours for Elon Musk to launch his electric sports car into space. The cherry red PR stunt went into orbit complete with a ‘fake astronaut’ in the driver’s seat. The fancy payload, a Tesla Roadster, retails for $200 000USD but you can get one on a payment plan so long as you make an initial deposit of $50 000.
In episode three, The Curse of Mr Bean, the protagonist tries to flee a boom-gated car park without paying. All attempts fail until the light blue Reliant approaches the boom gate. The protagonist charges at the car, the high-beams of the mini blazing. The Reliant Regal is forced to quickly reverse to safety but not before opening the boom. The backwards traveling Reliant loses its grip of the road, flopping over on its side. As the protagonist speeds away, he relishes not only damaging the three-wheeler but also humiliating its unseen driver. This is the only Reliant gag in the entire series to be of any significance to the episode’s plot.
As of July 2018, I am unwittingly following 139 of Elon Musk’s Twitter followers.
Central Coast resident Terri Barker reported seeing something odd outside her home at The Entrance in the mid-1990s. ‘The dogs made a strange noise and I got up. There was something up in the sky with a greenish glow.’
At 1010 hours on Sunday 15 July 2018, Elon Musk wore his messiah complex on his sleeve when he launched an abusive and baseless attack on one of the divers instrumental in rescuing 12 children from a cave in Thailand. Calling the man ‘pedo guy’, the attack came after the diver criticised Musk for attempting to capitalise on the global attention surrounding the rescue by turning up at the cave uninvited and with a completely useless submarine built from the husk of a space rocket. The torpedo’s shell provided the casing for the same rockets that launched Musk’s previous PR stunt, a cherry red electric car, into space.
My first car was a used Nissan Pulsar, 1989 model. I bought the car with money I’d earned from working at a fish and chip shop while in Year 11. It cost $500 and ran unlike a dream. I blew the car up in 2004 after wagging the last period of school. That morning I had delivered the last speech I would ever have to do in my schooling—a titillating five minutes about tenancy law in NSW. I had run the motor dry on the F3, and the bonnet of the car blew open in an eruption of smoke. It might have been my last speech, but it was my first ride in a tow truck.
On the morning of 27 May 2018, I was cut off by a Tesla on the M4 while driving to work in Parramatta. I beeped my horn but no-one could hear anything—the earth was being dug out all around to make way for WestConnex. Later that night, I put my wallet at the far end of the dining table and stared at it for ages.
At 0039 hours on 12 July 2018 Elon Musk tweeted, ‘Stockholm: it’s not just a syndrome.’
It is in episode one, Mr Bean, that the titular character first encounters his faceless arch nemesis. On his way to a maths exam, he finds himself stuck behind a light blue three-wheeled car. Agitated, the protagonist undertakes the car, forcing it to careen off the road and flip over. Later in the episode, while driving to the beach, the protagonist happens across the car again and decides to drive towards it, head on. The baby blue three-wheeler avoids colliding with the malevolent protagonist by swerving off the road into a field of tall grass. Later in the afternoon, the protagonist goes to church. While searching for a park, the universe brings him to the light blue Reliant yet again. He steals the park by nudging the three-wheeler out of the way. It slowly rolls into a brick wall. The string of coincidences boil over at the episode’s end when the protagonist crashes his mini off-screen after becoming visibly disturbed at the sight of the Reliant Regal Supervan III approaching a T intersection. The Reliant peels away, sensibly driving off screen. The episode concludes with the image of a wheel from the protagonist’s mini falling out of the sky and unceremoniously rolling down the street. The protagonist is seen in the distance, abandoning the wreck.
On Wednesday 7 February 2018 at 2359, a bizarre thread of conspiracy theories emerge from the dank annals of a subreddit. They bubble to the top of Twitter and Facebook before being picked up by tabloid media outlets. Did Elon Musk launch his car into space to dispose of his murder victim? Did he commit the perfect crime? *Whomst* would his victim be? Was the body hidden in plain sight in the driver’s seat? Guess we’ll never know. Internet users looked for clues in the images of the car, pointing at the alleged mannequin in the driver’s seat, suggesting that the text ‘DON’T PANIC!’ inscribed on the dashboard was a sickly taunt.
Between 1994 and 1996, hundreds of UFO sightings were reported across the Central Coast. The experiences ranged from ‘extremely loud ominous humming noises’ heard by a retired Buff Point couple to a trio of fisherman encountering a ‘little being’ that screamed and tried to hide behind a rock under a bridge at Woy Woy. The mass sighting of a glowing sphere in 1994 has gained international stardom in UFO circles due to the large volume of witness testimony from ‘credible’ sources. These ‘credible witnesses’ include doctors, lawyers, and several policemen from the south Central Coast who reported pursuing a large hovering sphere to a nearby lake where they saw it ‘suck up’ water before shooting off at impossible speed.
On 16 April 2018, one of Elon Musk’s Twitter followers starts a GoFundMe page in order to crowdsource funds to gift the technocrat a ‘new couch’. After two months, 591 donors surpass the page’s original goal of $1000 by raising $7609. Musk is given a new couch for his office, which he claims he can sleep on while pulling all-nighters to solve manufacturing woes related to his latest model of luxury electric car, the Tesla Model 3. Previously, Musk had complained to reporters about the couch in his office, saying it was ‘too narrow’.
As of July 2018, Elon Musk is worth $20 billion USD.
In July 2018, an account named ‘People getting cut off by a Tesla’ appeared on Twitter. As of July 2018, it has five followers. The account consists solely of retweets from people who have been inconvenienced by a Tesla while driving. The resulting ‘Twitter fall’ is a deluge of very specific experiences. The types of users can be roughly split into three categories: those who were delighted by the inconvenience, those who experienced existential despair as a result of being cut off, and unintelligible rambling/people attempting to glorify the experience using sexual language. For those who derived joy from being endangered by the electric car, most mention feeling honored or impressed. A curious amount of people mentioned that they would only ever make exceptions if they were cut off by a Tesla or their favourite celebrity. Mostly, it seemed that exceptions would be made for Rihanna, or even Elon Musk himself. The despairing crowd drew attention to the contrast between their own circumstances and the highly priced car, and in doing so, emitted poetical information charged with imagery that embodied the exploitation of the working class. Mentions of expensive toll roads enjoyed by unseen Tesla drivers, class divisions summarised by interactions with tractors and badly driven Roadsters, privileged learner drivers being taught how to drive in their parents’ Tesla. The images effectively operate as living and lived evidence of ethical consumption under capitalism being impossible, unobtainable. Capitalism persists as a result of the subjugation of the working class and always will—no matter how many rechargeable lithium ion battery cells power your Roadster or Tesla Model 3.
On 18 July 2018 at 0745 hours, news broke that Elon Musk had donated $90 000 to Republican causes since 2017. $40 000 was thrown at Protect The House, a Republican committee whose sole purpose is to retain control of the House. The remaining $50 000 was gifted Musk’s long-time friend, House Majority Leader and climate change denier Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy started his business career as a teenager after using money he won in the lottery to invest in the stock market and to buy a deli. In a 2011 interview with public radio station KQED, McCarthy described how the experience caused him to turn towards conservative values, such as being sick of paying tax.
My second car was a 1986 Toyota Camry. I don’t remember how many hundreds of dollars it set me back, but it came with shag pile seat covers and a broken combination radio/cassette player. On my eighteenth birthday I crashed it into the back of another car in Budgewoi while I was looking at my flip phone. The other car was fine but the front end of mine looked as if a dinosaur had kicked it in. Despite the mangled visage, the car still drove fine—by either magic or malfunction, the damage had spared the radiator. The flimsy aluminum bonnet had been twisted into a pyramid-like shape by the impact, but I flattened it with my hands and drove home. Later that night I picked up some friends and drove the car to a house party. The Camry was as good as fool’s gold after I took it to a crafty Kanwal mechanic who transplanted a new bonnet and front end from another non-Camry car. About a year after the crash, I sold the car for $50 the day before the rego expired. The buyer told me he would ‘christen’ it as his new paddy basher that day.
Throughout 2017 and 2018, Elon Musk sacked hundreds of workers who wanted to unionise.
On 22 November 1994 at 1806 hours the San Remo sky was plush, touchable. The vehicle—a rank orange sphere—appeared to be at odds with the sky, as if grazing along a wall like a dog relieving an itch. The UFO left the sky muddled with its tracks as it headed in the direction of the smokestacks. I didn’t catch a glimpse of the driver of the spherical vehicle before it disappeared for good. The way in which the vehicle plunged into the soft gunk of the sky is still the most feral thing I have ever seen.
At 0805 hours on 10 July 2018 Elon Musk tweeted, ‘Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful.’
At 0954 hours on 4 July 2018 Elon Musk tweeted, ‘Whoop whoop.’ He linked to a post on a popular tech forum which discusses at length how Juggalos have worked out how to encrypt their faces using clown makeup in order to beat the algorithms governing facial recognition technology.
At 0855 hours on 29 March 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported that ‘the suburbs around Gosford, on the Central Coast in NSW, are the state’s biggest hot spot when it comes to UFO sightings.’
At 0356 hours on 31 May 2018, the writer Sarah Jeong tweeted, ‘I have a separate folder just for the emails I still get from enraged Elon Musk fans two years after I made fun of him for not following any women on Twitter.’
As of July 2018, Elon Musk has 22.3 million Twitter followers.
As of July 2018, the population of Australia is 24.7 million.
In episode five, The Trouble with Mr Bean, the protagonist uses his mini to push his furtive enemy, the light blue three-wheeled car, out of a metered space. As a result, he doesn’t have to pay for parking when he visits the dentist.
Elon Musk wears a pseudo-philanthropic cloak eerily similar to the one worn by Thomas Edison in the 19th century. Just like Edison, Musk barely disguises his hypercapitalist agenda and the fact that he inherited billions of dollars from his billionaire family, who profited from apartheid in South Africa. It is well known that Edison’s inventions were conceptualised and perfected by a team of at least 15 faceless workers known as ‘muckers’. The existence of these workers, who lived in a loft converted into living quarters in Edison’s factory, was kept in the dark by the PR machine that was Edison’s brand. Musk, like Edison, understands the immense capital to be gained from self-mythologising or ‘marketing’ one’s own self as the sole inventor of an electric device that will ‘change the world’. Edison was a proponent of wage theft, viciously underpaying his muckers. The most famous of Edison’s muckers was named Nikola Tesla.
My third car came from a middle-class dentist whose lawn and garden my dad tended to. The car was a Honda Skyline; a pseudo sports car with gold finish. It was the ugliest car I’d ever seen and I loved it. I was in my first year of university and I was working at Blockbuster. The car only lasted a couple of months. One night on my dinner break, I drove the car from Blockbuster to Subway, a distance of about 200 metres across a shopping centre car-park. We had an unspoken deal with certain members of staff at Subway: free sandwiches for free movies. I emerged from Subway one night with my free sandwich and the horrible gold car never started again.
It was during apartheid in South Africa that Musk’s father, Errol Musk, got away with murder. An apartheid-era court ruled that Errol acted in ‘self defence’ when he somehow murdered three people at his property, citing they were ‘intruders’. Elon Musk has commented publicly regarding his father and the killings, alleging his dad has committed ‘almost every crime you can possibly think of.’
‘They just don’t want to.’
On 17 May 2017, Minister for Social Services Christian Porter announced a probe into Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group, which had been approved by the department for a grant of $2645. The group had also received $2994 of taxpayers’ money in 2013. The previous Labor government approved the funding under the premise that the money would assist in transporting volunteers with a disability. A spokeswoman for the Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group admitted, ‘We have elderly people we pick up and take to meetings, where we need projectors and microphones so everyone can see and hear what’s going on. We also have outings at night checking for unusual activity.’ At the time, the Department of Social Services justified its funding for the group, stating on its website, ‘by sharing their experiences and knowledge within the community, the volunteers foster social inclusion and enrich the local region.’
On 7 May 2018 at 2125 hours, Elon Musk and famous art-pop star, Grimes, emerged hand in hand at the ‘heavenly bodies’ themed Met Gala. Grimes had adorned her neck with a giant Tesla choker before removing the words ‘anti-imperialist’ from her Twitter bio. Musk stepped out in a suit almost as white as the hands of his father.
Minister Christian Porter terminated the grant. ‘The transmission of funds stops here,’ he said.
On 28 May 2018, I was cut off by the same Tesla driver that cut me off on the M4 the previous day. I shouted, ‘your car is a classist keep cup … of lies, you electric oligarch!’ Now I know how Mr Bean felt every time he was crossed by that blue three-wheeled car with the unseeable driver.
On 4 June 2018 at 1637 hours I was recovering from being cut off by yet another Tesla on Parramatta Road when the sky went plush and I was the driver of a 1986 Camry again. I fanged it, ripping up the handbrake to drift across the whole disgusting sky. I floated north over the Mooney Mooney before doing the sickest burnout on the lid of a middle-class sky at Empire Bay. One of my side mirrors snapped off when I got too close to space. The mirror burned up as it re-entered the atmosphere, holding glow in the night sky before plopping into Budgewoi Lake without ceremony. I pulled up at San Remo, wound down my window. The smokestacks weren’t where they used to be.
Dan Hogan is a writer whose work has appeared in the Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Overland, The Lifted Brow, Scum, and Cordite, among others. They are the Program Officer at Writing NSW, and a teacher. Dan is also the director of the independent literary organisation, Subbed In. They tweet @packetofchips